Our high streets are the heart of our communities in High Peak. Each is unique, but all are a place to do some shopping, visit services such as libraries or the dentist, and to meet people.
I love all of our local, unique high streets. I visited George Street bookshop in Glossop last week and was impressed with the huge amount of work done by volunteers to keep a much-loved store run by the community, for the community.
In New Mills my boys persuaded me to the visit the chippy after their swimming lesson and it was great to see the same owner at the Crispy Cod who recognised me as a regular from a dozen years ago.
I use shops and services in Whaley and Chapel most regularly, and with my office in Buxton, I’m now getting to know Buxton stores better.
We all need our high streets, but they’re seeing new challenges. The loss of Marks & Spencers would be a real blow to Spring Gardens in Buxton – and to its loyal shoppers. I met the store manager, spoke with some of the staff in M&S and know how difficult it will be for them too.
The Head Office representative who I met to make the case for the Buxton store stated they were moving out of 100 stores which are no longer profit-making, largely because of online shopping.
I and the staff will continue to make the case for M&S, and they can do well in High Peak, as Glossop’s successful Simply Food store shows.
This week and next we are also seeing the closures of the Royal Bank of Scotland branches in Chapel and Buxton. As the last bank in town, the Chapel branch will be a particular loss, especially to older residents, local businesses, and local fundraisers.
Again, I made a case for the branch, but RBS are reducing their branches to just 56 across the whole country, and made it clear the concerns of Chapel are not their concerns.
In Whaley Bridge, the Post Office on Canal Street has been advertised for some months, but with no takers. Having met the sub-postmaster, the changes to the fees paid by the Post Office make it difficult for ‘local’ branches.
I met the Post Office to ask for more services to be available at Whaley and hope they will reconsider, but hundreds of post offices are closing across the country.
Our high streets evolve, as they always have. The important thing is that we seek to keep our shops, banks and post office, and I’ll fight for each one. Our high streets can be successful – as Glossop shows – but we must all remember to use our stores or we may lose them.